“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, November 05, 2004


And in the expected news… Hungary and Holland are pulling out of the CSA coalition in Iraq. Hungary is speeding up its withdrawal. LI doesn’t think this bodes well for Iraqis. The presence of these powers, even in their small numbers, creates At least some fragile limit to American ferocity. However, the shop is being cleared for butchering. Over the protests of such of Iraq’s supposedly “sovereign” government as the interim president, the Americans and Saddam’s former hitman, Allawi, have conjoined in a murderous bond that is casting the same eye on Fallujah that that big eye in Lord of the Rings cast on Gondar.

The fight is entering a new stage, as the restraints have been removed from one side. LI read on one conservative weblog a wonderful euphemistic phrase for killing Iraqis: surgery is bloody. Surgery, much like, oh, the surgeries Stalin had to effect in the Ukraine.

Put that in the same class as: to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs. Yes, bony omelets are coming up. Delectably seasoned with the marrow of three year olds. Eat it.

And in news from the Red planet: more from the state of Ohio.

Wired has an article about the deliberate dumbing down of Ohio schools by the introduction of “intelligent design” to the biology curicullum. ID is a form of mysticism that might be discussed in the Sunday schools of truly subdeb evangelical churches, but certainly not around the odor of dissected frogs. This is probably going to be a big part of the faith based change that the new, ‘value-sensitive’ liberals are going to have to get used to under the Confederate leadership. Surely some Republican senator should, really should, introduce legislation requiring parity of teaching time between ID and evolution. If you want to disable a rouge super-power, let the dumbest do the work for you, is what we say here at LI. Delay or DeMint, over to you!

Speaking of the dumbest – Gilder proves there might be something to faith after all by returning from the dead and releasing his hilarious view of Darwinism in a side bar: Biocosm. For some reason, Gilder’s ties to Discover institute, which has financed ID (alas, New Age institutes should get in on the fad – surely the students of Ohio should also discuss medical astrology, alchemy, and divination with crooked sticks), never weighed down his intellectual cred when he was a telecom guru. Now, of course, he is a bankrupt telecom guru. Unbowed, he has these wise things to say about biology:

“The Darwinist materialist paradigm, however, is about to face the same revolution that Newtonian physics faced 100 years ago. Just as physicists discovered that the atom was not a massy particle, as Newton believed, but a baffling quantum arena accessible only through mathematics, so too are biologists coming to understand that the cell is not a simple lump of protoplasm, as Charles Darwin believed. It's a complex information-processing machine comprising tens of thousands of proteins arranged in fabulously intricate algorithms of communication and synthesis.”

Wow. The man seems, a, never to have heard of Weissman, who basically gave us the protoplasm model that Gilder incorrectly attributes to Darwin, and b., seems to be unaware that talking about the complexity of the number of connections as some kind of disproof of natural selection processes is like saying, well, if you have 10,000 companies in a marketplace, capitalism just can’t work. It is utter nonsense. Undeterred, the man plunges ahead to a truly funny bit of nonsense:

“The human body contains some 60 trillion cells. Each one stores information in DNA codes, processes and replicates it in three forms of RNA and thousands of supporting enzymes, exquisitely supplies the system with energy, and seals it in semipermeable phospholipid membranes. It is a process subject to the mathematical theory of information, which shows that even mutations occurring in cells at the gigahertz pace of a Pentium 4 and selected at the rate of a Google search couldn't beget the intricate interwoven fabric of structure and function of a human being in such a short amount of time.”

You read it and try to figure out what the hell it means, or its meaning in terms of variation, and why a mathematical description has turned into a binding physical law. Out of this wreck of gobbledygook one can extract some smidgen of sense: Gilder thinks Darwin’s theory is that some organism has a mutation, and then you got you a brand spanking new species. Could he really be saying that species are just too complicated to come from one another -- and thus, they all must have been created individually?

And they let this man write on biology for a major magazine?

We were going to point out the fallacies here, but is there any point? The more interesting thing is the way in which bogus profundity can be effortlessly exported into sidebar pieces like Gilder’s. It is a shame that the ancient Greeks didn’t know about cutting and pasting, otherwise they would surely have had a word for cut and paste wisdom. The phrase, “phospholipid membranes,” is the delicious giveaway – an unnecessary technical phrase that only convinces those people who think paper crowns from Burger King are instruments of royalty. So we decided to engage in cut and paste wisdom ourselves, to see how easy it would be.

“What Gilder forgets is the hydrophobicity of amino acids', which has to be used to calculate the genetic code's error value. If you do that, you can control for average changes in the resulting level of amino acid hydrophobicity caused by all possible single-letter changes to all 64 codons of the code, reducing mutation levels over which to select to 2.5 X 1018 possible configurations (approximately equal to the number of seconds that have elapsed since the earth formed).”

Now the above paragraph is complete nonsense, made by cutting and pasting two randomly found papers on genetics via Google. But of course, who is going to fact check it?

Certainly not the kids from Jesusland, after ID has been inflicted on them in the classroom. It is an odd thing about Darwin – his theory seems to evoke a virulent allergic reaction in illiberal ideologies. So we have Islamic science, Aryan science, Lysenkoism, and … coming up … Born Again Science.

Oh, and one other note: the revolution Newtonian physics faced didn’t abolish Newtonian physics. Gilder’s science illiteracy is such that he evidently thinks it did. Of course, sloppy writing is par for the course for the pied piper of a trillion dollar sector loss. But expect the Red planet to pullulate with Christian con men of Gilder’s stripe in the next four to eight years. However long it takes for this gang to self destruct.

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